After a bumpy 2014, I managed to steady the ship a little in 2015, but it came with some big changes in my life. I didn’t perform at the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time since 2003 and possibly more importantly I became a father. My daughter Phoebe Doris Joy Herring was born on the 10th February, immediately beginning to pay for herself by giving me an opening routine for my new stand up show Happy Now?
In January I had my brain scanned. But there was nothing (exactly) wrong with my brain, it was all for the good of science.
The Lord of the Dance Settee tour continued from February through to June and my audience numbers held up and I think it was my most consistently well performed show. I summed up my feelings about it in my blog after the final show. We recorded the DVD at the Bloomsbury in May and it’s available, as usual at www.gofasterstripe.com.
RHLSTP continued and seems to be gathering momentum. We ran a kickstarter campaign to pay for the filming of both series 7 and series 8 this year and raised over £80,000 to do so, which was phenomenal and rather touching. A campaign to raise a million pounds for Me1 Vs Me2 Snooker was not as successful (though over £100,000 was pledged). The seventh series was recorded in June and July and got off to a tremendous start with guest Bob Mortimer. Other guests included Louis Theroux and Johnny Vegas. Series 8 ran from September through to November and there were more top guests including Eddie Izzard, David Mitchell and Jack Whitehall. RHLSTP was nominated for the Chortle internet award, but for the first time in its existence I did not win.
In June, I went to see an amateur production of my 1996 play, “Punk’s Not Dead”. I really enjoyed it
Instead of going to the Edinburgh Fringe I decided to stay at home and so something much more difficult. I performed all 11 of my old one man shows, plus the new one, Happy Now? at the Leicester Square Theatre over six weekends in August and September. Although it was tough to learn the 18 hours of material (as well as write a new show) it was an enormously rewarding experience. I got an average audience of just under 300, sold out the new show and didn’t make any serious screw ups. Without the competition, stress, journalists or financial worries I was able to enjoy myself and get home by 9pm to see my wife. I recorded a podcast series to accompany the run and you can also buy the audio versions of the first 10 shows (show 11 is on the Lord of the Dance Settee DVD and the Happy Now? Show will be on that DVD next year). Thanks to everyone who came to see this, especially the 29 who bought tickets to all the shows and received one of my extraordinary handmade T shirts. It helped to remind me that I am actually quite good at this job.
I also enjoyed continuing to work on the new show throughout the autumn and the first few tour dates went well and mainly sold out. The tour continues from January to June 2016.
My Metro column continued (and is approaching its 200th
piece) and Warming Up continued past its
13th birthday in written form (though the audio is on a break whilst
Robot Voice get the blancmange out of its circuit ducts). I even managed to get
in a few more frames of Me1 Vs Me2 snooker. In the autumn a compered most of
the run of a weekly light night stand up gig at the Albert Hall (small room). I did less radio than usual this year, but appeared on Listomania and recorded an episode of "Don't Make Me Laugh" which will broadcast in 2016.
I didn’t get much writing done, still licking my wounds from the failure of “I Killed Rasputin”. I decided against writing a sitcom pilot about a UKIP-style leader who becomes Prime Minister, but got another commission to write a sitcom about alternate universes, but didn’t get far in writing it (in this universe at least). My daughter has forced me to consider carefully how much time I spend on work and which jobs I do, but I still managed to keep up a good balance of free and paid work. I am loving being a dad. It’s a huge change, but a good one. Am I happy now? Come and see the tour to find out.
I hope that in 2016 we might finally get back to making some AIOTMs. But we will see…
My lack of celebrity status was confirmed by the fact that I got through the whole of 2016 without dying. It’s a real kick in the guts if I am honest with you.
But aside from the world sliding towards oblivion and the loss of some much-loved and super-talented people (as well as my lovely cat Liono), things moved mainly in the right direction career-wise.
The most notable success was that we managed to raise over £180,000 via Kickstarter to fund two more series of RHLSTP and six video episodes of AIOTM. The team had got back together in January to finally commit the Motorcycle Clothing Shop Sketch to film.
And then, after an incredible late spurt, the £100,000 goal was reached on the kickstarter.
We began shooting the series in September, with the videos pegged for release in Spring 2017. But we also recorded bonus audio episodes in the traditional half-arsed last-minute spirit. Farage in the Garage in episode 4 was perhaps the highlight.
And thanks to the generosity of the fans of the show we were able to film another 36 episodes of the Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, (also available on audio) with guests including Tim Minchin, Vic Reeves, Armando Iannucci and Dawn French. It’s still incredibly good fun to do this show and two more series are already planned for 2017.
Throughout the Spring I continued my tour of Happy Now? with several big sold out gigs and my biggest ever live audience for the DVD record at St David’s Hall in Cardiff. You can buy the show as a DVD or download here.
In the summer and autumn I did some preview gigs for the new tour, The Best, which will be touring the UK in the Spring and comprises of 90 minutes of my favourite routines from my 12 solo stand up shows.
I continued to dabble with acting. The two short films I recorded in 2015 were both released. Mosquito and
While You Were Away. The latter of these has enjoyed some success at award ceremonies, including winning the Audience Award at the prestigious ECU festival.
In September I played a small role in Ross Noble’s Sky TV Halloween short, The Catchment.
And then in October I had a bigger part in the short film “Clean” which should be out in 2017.
Once again I took a break from the Edinburgh Fringe, my first two year absence since the early 90s. But I should be returning next year for my 30th anniversary and a show about turning 50 called "Oh Frig, I'm 50!"
In July I achieved an ambition by having Me1 Vs Me2 Snooker recognised for what it really is – transgressive art – when I was asked to appear at the Tempting Failure Festival in Dalston alongside artists who pulled children’s teeth out of their genitals or lip-synced karaoke with their vaginas.
My work proved too controversial for many of the art community and was the only artist to get multiple walk-outs, but it led to me getting one of my favourite reviews ever.
The podcast itself went on hiatus after this triumph but will surely return.
And my run at the Metro newspaper finally came to an end after nearly five years and 242 columns.
It was the right time to
leave it, but I have really appreciated the kind comments I’ve had for it and
been surprised by how many different kinds of people have liked my witterings. Thanks for reading it, if you did.
Unusually I didn’t do any panel shows on TV or radio this year (as far as I recall) but my wife and I were last minute replacements for John Stapleton and Lynn Foulds-Wood on Pointless Celebrities. Did I finally win a trophy? The episode will be aired in 2017.
Some positive news on the script writing front. Radio 4 have commissioned 4 episodes of my sitcom Relativity, which should air in the summer of 2017 and Channel 4 are letting me make a 10 minute taster tape of my alternate Universe sitcom, Everything Happens For No Reason, in order to help them decide if they want to make a series.
Finally, a couple of honourable mentions in end of year Best of lists.
RHLSTP was picked for the Guardian top 50 podcasts.
Bruce Dessau chose Happy Now? as one of his top 20 gigs of the year.